And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord's holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:17-19
Root rot is the primary cause of houseplant deaths, but the signs of rot can also look similar to the symptoms of underwatering. The only way to diagnose your plant is to remove it from the pot and examine its roots.
Just as a wilting plant requires looking at the roots, we may need to examine our Biblical beliefs to become healthy in our relationship with God. This past year I did exactly that. My spiritual life was drooping and feeling sickly. So I had to do some unearthing to examine my long-held beliefs
Faulty thinking about the gospel of Jesus can cause insecurity, sadness, fear, and confusion. Something has gone awry when the gospel message does not build up but instead tears down. I know this from first-hand experience. But Jesus didn’t die on the cross so I would feel insecure about His love for me.
As I dug deep, I discovered a truth. If my doctrinal beliefs are not rooted and established first and foremost in love, I have rotten roots, and it isn’t the gospel of Jesus.
Paul’s prayer for Christians in Ephesians 3:17-19 looks like a healthy tree – full of blossoms and beautiful to behold.
Follow God's example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 1:1-2
To walk in the way of love, I needed to uproot three lies and plant three truths.
The Three Lies to Uproot
- I must earn my salvation through discipleship.
- The Christian life is hard.
- There is no room for doctrinal disagreements. There is only one way to interpret the Bible.
The Three Lies have caused so much angst and insecurity in my life. Why? Because I relied on my good works and my former church’s Biblical interpretations to make me feel secure with God rather than my security coming from my faith in Jesus to save. Jesus’s death on the cross changed my relationship with the law, but I was still choosing to live under the law. Jesus fulfilled the requirements of the law for me, so I can now live freely by his grace.
Because I believed lie #1, it naturally led me to lie #2, that the Christian life is hard. Of course, it will be hard when I think I have to earn my salvation. It wasn’t until I recently studied the doctrine of justification by faith that I understood the freedom Christ has always meant for me to have.
Galatians 2:16 could not say it more clearly we are saved by faith.
"know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be saved."
My former church did not teach justification by faith alone, but instead justification by faith + discipleship + baptism. I now know they misunderstand the Biblical teachings of God’s grace.
Lie #3 kept me tied to one religious organization’s interpretation of the Bible and isolated me from other Christian groups. For decades I was in a church that saw Bible verses as patterns, formulas, and black and white. I now understand primary and secondary doctrines, and I accept that Christians can interpret Bible verses differently and still consider each other Christians.
The Three Truths to Plant and Nourish
- I can be rooted and established in God’s love.
- The gospel is good news.
- I can be secure in my salvation.
I can be rooted and established in God’s love – pure white strong roots with all the mushy dark roots gone.
The origin of my belief in God must be that he loves me. Good roots provide the nourishment to produce good works because of the position Jesus has placed me in. Below are the names God gives me in the book of Ephesians.
Holy, blessed, chosen, blameless, adopted, loved, predestined, included, sealed, saved, God's handiwork, member of God's household, heir, child of light.
The book of Ephesians has six chapters. I find it interesting that Paul intentionally reminded the Christians in the first three chapters how extravagantly Christ loved them before instructing them in the last three chapters how they were to live worthy of Christ.
I spent many years in a church that motivated its members out of fear and shame. However, it was done often covertly so I didn’t even know I was being shamed. The work of Brene Brown is very helpful in understanding shame and I am amazed at how easy it is to fall prey to bullying by spiritual leaders when we don’t understand healthy boundaries. I now realize the members became policemen to each other – ensuring we behaved correctly. We forgot the first three chapters of Ephesians while trying to put to practice the commands in the last three.
The gospel’s good news is that salvation is by grace through faith, not by works so that no one CAN BOAST!!! (Ephesians 2:8-10) I have uprooted any other message of salvation other than the statement above.
Most of all, I believe I can be secure in my salvation because when Jesus said, “It is finished” on the cross, He meant it. Jesus fulfilled the law’s requirements for me, which I can never fulfill.
When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession – to the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1:14
When the Bible says the Holy Spirit is a deposit that guarantees my inheritance, I no longer have to feel insecure about where I stand with God. No leader or religious system will ever shame me into doing anything for Christ again. I can write a book about the thought reform tactics used in my former church to get me to behave and think according to their definition of a disciple. But I will not use this space for that because I am moving forward in being rooted and established in love.
The feature picture of this blog post is a tree full of blossoms. A beautiful sign, the tree is rooted and established in the ground. I am becoming that tree.
If you have any questions about anything I have shared in this blog please don’t hesitate to email me at Mylifeinbend@gmail.com. Or please enter a comment on this blog.